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April 11, 2013 - Al Stephenson
I took in the Nascar Sprint Cup Race at Martinsville Speedway last weekend. My wife, daughter and I braved perfect weather conditions to watch Jimmie Johnson dominate as he led 346 of the 500 laps to take home yet another Grandfather Clock. There is no question that the trophy for winning at Martinsville is one of the neatest in all of sports.
Given all of the on track incidents and post race confrontations that have happened thus far this season, payback seemed to be on all the spectators minds in southern Virginia. The only problem with that expectation is that the drivers failed to comply. This was the site of Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon starting their feud last year, ending with Bowyer sprinting to Gordon's hauler at Phoenix in November. Perhaps retaliation from those two? Nope.
Joey Logano has been a lightning rod this year and it seemed that several drivers were itching to put the young driver in his place. Tony Stewart perhaps? Nope again. Kurt Busch had a reason Sunday as Logano rooted him out of the way midway through the race. I fully expected Bad Boy Kurt to get even and that also did not happen. Everyone, it seemed, decided to play nice.
That did not mean the day was not exciting. Any time one goes to a Nascar event, the excitement level leading up to the command to start engines is extraordinary. When the directive was finally given, I realized that I had forgotten just how loud 43 racing machines can be. We had earplugs but they didn't seem to help that much. There is hope in that area though.
Two elderly (70-80, I'm guessing) men sat in the row ahead of us. Just before the command, both gentlemen reached up and removed their hearing aids. No earplugs were necessary for the two as they sat stoically and enjoyed the race.
At one point a woman who was a Kasey Kahne fan (she had some kind of homemade head gear that confirmed that) appeared in the row ahead of us right beside our hearing aidless gentlemen. She looked around and announced that she was lost. I had seen the headgear earlier and pointed out the general area she had been sitting in. Alas, she informed me that she had already moved from that seat and was looking for her new one. Twenty minutes later she took off and we didn't see her again. You have to love Nascar fans!
Johnson was very good, but the other driver that caught our attention was Danica. She spun early bringing out the first caution, but rebounded nicely. Coming from the back of the field, she finished a respectable 12th. She is a polarizing figure in Nascar. There are those that think she only has a ride because she brings sponsorship to the table. As true as that is, she can also drive a race car. I hope she continues to get better and better. That can only be good for the sport.
The hour long wait to get out of the facility could not take away from a great day. The view from my seat suggests that it is a special time attending a Nascar race. I have now been to races at five venues including Michigan, Indy, Bristol, Sonoma and now Martinsville. I can't wait to see where I will go racing next!
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